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J Strength Cond Res. 2019 Aug 29. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000003354. [Epub ahead of print]

A 28-Day Carbohydrate-Restricted Diet Improves Markers of Cardiometabolic Health and Performance in Professional Firefighters.

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Human Performance Lab, Department of Kinesiology, University of North Alabama, Florence, Alabama.
Applied Physiology Lab, Department of Kinesiology, Mississippi State University, Starkville, Mississippi.
Department of Food Science, Nutrition, and Health Promotion, Mississippi State University, Starkville, Mississippi.
Metabolic and Applied Physiology Lab, Department of Health and Human Performance, Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas.


Waldman, HS, Smith, JW, Lamberth, J, Fountain, BJ, and McAllister, MJ. A 28-day carbohydrate-restricted diet improves markers of cardiometabolic health and performance in professional firefighters. J Strength Cond Res XX(X): 000-000, 2019-We investigated the effects of a 4-week ad-libitum, nonketogenic, carbohydrate-restricted (<25% of calories) diet (CRD) on cardiometabolic and performance markers in firefighters (FF). Subjects (n = 15) completed 9 sessions (trials 1-3 [familiarization], trials 4-6 [baseline], and trials 7-9 [post-CRD]). Following habitual western diet, anthropometric measures were assessed, glucose tolerance measured, and then completed a graded cycling test, maximal Wingate test, and conducted their FF physical performance assessment (FPPA) to measure performance while metabolic variables and perceptual responses were recorded. Subjects then adhered to a CRD for a 4-week duration and returned for repeat testing. Body fat as measured by BodPod, and 7-site skinfold thickness decreased (p < 0.01), and a decrease was observed in blood pressure (BP) (p < 0.01; ∼5 mm Hg) after CRD. There were no differences found for glucose tolerance, but an increase was found for fat oxidation rates (p < 0.01; ∼0.07 g·min) and a decrease in carbohydrate oxidation rates across a range of intensities (p < 0.01; ∼0.24 g·min). Finally, the 2.41-km run and pull-up performance during the FPPA improved (p < 0.01; ∼41 second and 3 repetitions, respectively) and with no differences observed between treatments regarding the Wingate test. To date, this is the first CRD implemented with FF and resulted in decreased fat mass (∼2.4 kg), BP, and improvements to performance on the FPPA while preserving high-intensity exercise. These data suggest that a 28-day CRD can benefit markers of health in professional FF without detriments to occupational performance.

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